A Roadtreker I Never Met – Bob Graham

 A Roadtreker I Never Met – Bob Graham

10720aaBack ten years ago when I first got the Roadtrek bug, I still had years of work ahead of me before retirement and knew nothing about RVs, but I was formulating a plan to escape the weary life I led and hit the road. One of the websites I found Googling around for information belonged to this guy named Bob Graham, and I got hooked instantly when I read about how he used his Roadtrek.

Bob Graham's travels - this map is from his defunct website.
Bob Graham’s travels – this map is from his defunct website.

Bob and his wife Carol lived in Hawaii. What they would do is fly to Vegas (there are always cheap flights to Vegas, even from Hawaii), get their Roadtrek out of storage, fill up with gas and water, stop by the grocery store, and hit the road for… somewhere. After they were through traveling, they would end up back in Vegas, store the Roadtrek again, and fly back home.   That’s what I wanted to do – all except the getting off the road and flying home part. Bob and Carol went all over – Alaska, Newfoundland, Idaho – they would just head out and keep driving until they got wherever.  Bob retired in 1995, bought his Roadtrek, and started writing about all the places he’d been.  He drove it over 180,000 miles all together. His website is down now, but you can still see some of it in the internet archive here: http://web.archive.org/web/20050407033157/http://www.bgrahamonline.com/Roadtrek.html

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Bob personalized his Roadtrek with a little spare tire carrier art – it’s the logo from his website.

Bob was an electrical engineer who got into computers back in the 1950s for Boeing, so he’s one of the internet pioneers. His website was terrible by modern standards – bagpipes would blast at you as soon as you open the main page (he LIKED bagpipes), and there was no fancy layout software (Bob probably coded it all himself, in html if not machine language), but the content was wonderful. In addition to the travelogue, there were stories about how he met his beautiful Hawaiian bride Carol in postwar Seattle, his adventures growing up in Idaho and spending summers as a Forest Service lookout on top of a mountain in a fire tower – fascinating stuff from an era now gone forever. He was on duty in the summer of 1945 when the word came down – look for a light from the south tonight. Years later he figured out that it was the Trinity test, the first atomic bomb.  Bob didn’t see it all the way up in Idaho, but the government really didn’t know what would happen, so they had observers all over the western US alerted.

Bob's wife Carol and one of their grandkids.
Bob’s wife Carol and one of their grandkids.

From 1995 to 2000, Bob and Carol went all over – and then Carol passed away. She had been fighting cancer since 1996, and their travels must have been a race against time to get in as many experiences as possible while they could. To help himself get over this loss, Bob took what he called his odyssey, a three month trip going from Vegas to Seattle, Idaho, Texas, down the the Keys, up to New England, over to Colorado, and Idaho again, seeing family and old friends and just generally getting his head back on straight.  Bob later remarried and went on to have further adventures, but by 2006 his website wasn’t being updated. I had my own Roadtrek by then, and was busy  with my own adventures so I didn’t check back as often as when all I had was a dream.  Googling around now, I find out that Bob passed away in 2012.

Bob may be gone, but he left a legacy – all his children and grandchildren, plus people like me he inspired to go try it on their own.  I never got a chance to meet him because he was off the road by the time I really got going in mine, but the dream was passed on through his website. That’s the best thing about the Roadtrek community – we’re all teaching each other how to use our vehicles to lead the kind of life we want to.  None of us know how much time we have, and sitting around waiting for life to get better isn’t much of a strategy – you have to go out and have adventures. Thanks for everything you taught me, Bob, you’re an inspiration.

campskunk

"campskunk" is a blissfully retired former public servant who has left the challenges of how to run the government to younger and less cynical hands, and wanders the continent in his Roadtrek Class B RV with his wife and cat. In addition to his work in the public sector, he has also at various times been a mechanic and delivery driver, skills which come in handy in his new role. Because his former job involved the forensic evaluation and sometimes the subsequent detention of some not-so-nice people, he uses the name campskunk instead of his legal name on the Internet. His was not the type of job where customer service feedback would be welcome.

10 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing, CS!

  • Campskunk, this was such a sweet story to share. What a great life Bob and Carol had, made even richer through their travels. I don’t have a Roadtrek yet. I am living vicariously through all of you who do, just like you did for a while through Bob’s website, until it was your turn. Such a testament to all of you, to live life to the fullest!

  • That was certainly an inspiring story.
    Well here I am, roughly a dozen years away from retirement. I got my Roadtrek about two years ago and my wife and I take mini trips and dream of the day when we can head out. For now we will read and enjoy your stories and look forward to the day when we can run in to some fellow Roadtrekers. Who know’s, maybe we will see you on the road. Thanks for sharing your stories and experience.

  • That is quite a personal website. And such great tips like visiting Yellowstone in the early Spring. I live in Hawaii and want to do just what he did. Its so logical for us here because we live on an Island. He was able to depart Honolulu in the early morning, get to Vegas, shop that evening and depart the next morning on his odyssey as he called them. And he did it more than once a year! Thank you for that post. And thanks for the Wayback Machine!

  • What a wonderful inspiration he left you, Camp. Thanks for sharing this great story.

  • and thanks to you, Campskunk, for inspiring us!

  • Campskunk, thank you for sharing this story. The website that you found and provided of Bob is such a find. I can truly see why he was and probably still is an inspiration to you and many more including myself now. I would also like to say that you have also been an inspiration to me in the information you post and the journeys that you have shared. Please keep up the good work. May our paths cross in our future travels of lifes journeys.

  • Nice article, Campskunk. Thanks.

  • Aloha Campskunk! I’ve read your articles/column from time to time and enjoyed them a lot. Mahalo nui loa (thanks so much) for honoring our dad with this article. Yes, he did make his site the old way from scratch (HTML code). Thank you also for introducing me to web.archive.org. While I inherited my dad’s HTML files, it only included website updates up to his Odyssey. His last wife, Liz, was saddened because all THEIR travels vanished when his website was taken down. With web.archive.org, I’ll be able to share the last travels they posted about. BTW, the Hale Auana is still in Las Vegas. I now own it and it still has Hawaii plates on it. Only thing, I’m some 15 years from retirement, so we only get to it about once/year 🙁

    • tom, you know it already, but your dad was a truly remarkable man, and thanks to his website those of us who stumbled upon it were able to learn a bit about him. glad i could help Liz out with access to his later blog entries. i go back and read them all the time. i’m also very happy to know Bob’s Roadtrek is still in the family and being used – those old Dodges run forever, you know. one thing about Bob – he didn’t waste time and blog space complaining about mechanical things – he just fixed them and traveled on, enjoying life. we could all benefit from being a little more like him.

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